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DLR at InnoTrans 2018 – a high-speed train for the freight transport of the future

14 September 2018

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  • Das Projekt NGT Cargo
    NGT Cargo - logistics concept for freight transport

    The high-speed train NGT CARGO is part of an integrated logistics concept to make future rail freight transport more attractive. It consists of cargo wagons and locomotives that can be automatically assembled – in separate parts or as a group – and driven via a centrally controlled system.

  • NGT%2dCargo Modell
    NGT CARGO model

    When a train travels at 400 kilometres per hour through a tunnel, it creates a strong pressure wave. Special hoods on the tunnel portals allow part of the pressure wave to escape sideways or upwards, thus reducing noise.

  • NGT%2dCargo Tunnelportal
    Solutions for pressure waves in tunnel passages

    When a train travels at 400 kilometres per hour through a tunnel, the strong pressure wave creates a heavy strain on the tunnel’s infrastructure and causes a loud explosion-like noise. Using a model of the NGT CARGO at a scale of 1:25, it is possible to demonstrate how these effects can be mitigated.

  • Preadiktive Instandhaltung
    Switches and rails know when to wait

    In order to maintain the rail freight transport infrastructure before it is damaged or fails, it is necessary to monitor rails, switches and cable systems continuously and automatically. The colours indicate the degree of wear and tear on the track sections.

  • DLR will present its current rail research projects at InnoTrans in Berlin from 18 to 21 September 2018
  • The holistic logistics concept NGT Cargo aims to increase the attractiveness of future rail freight transport
  • DLR researchers are making rail transport more economical, safer, more energy-efficient and more environmentally friendly
  • Focus: Mobility, energy, transport, security, rail transport of the future

From 18 to 21 September 2018, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will be showcasing what the trains of tomorrow might look like and how we can make rail transport safer, more energy-efficient and more environmentally friendly at InnoTrans, the International Trade Fair for Transport Technology, held in Berlin. The scientists will present the entire spectrum of current DLR rail research, including the NGT Cargo, a high-speed train for future freight transport (Hall 2.2, Stand 404).

"With its research, DLR not only looks at rail vehicles, but rather at the complete transport chain – from sender to receiver. The reinforcement of rail transport as a competitive mode of transport is an important element of the transport revolution. To make rail more attractive for cargo and passenger transport, we have to increase its capacity, speed, reliability and cost-effectiveness. As a federal rail transport research institution, DLR is making a significant contribution to this objective. DLR is developing a vision for future cargo transport, as part of an integrated logistics concept, and driving concrete technological innovations," says Karsten Lemmer, DLR Executive Board Member for Energy and Transport.

From road to rail – a mobility concept for freight transport

DLR scientists have developed the NGT Cargo to counteract problems such as particulate matter, traffic noise and congestion. This is a logistics concept for future cargo transport, aimed at increasing the efficiency of rail transport and shifting cargo transport from road to rail. In addition to research on the vehicle itself, the project takes into consideration the entire transport chain – from sender to recipient. This also includes loading and unloading facilities, handling facilities and an operational concept incorporating urban distribution. The NGT CARGO train developed for that purpose is composed of individual cargo wagons and high-performance locomotives. NGT CARGO wagons can be autonomously driven individually or as a group.

With a loud bang – aerodynamic studies on the tunnel entrance

When a train enters a tunnel at a speed of around 400 kilometres per hour, it generates pressure waves that shoot through it at the speed of sound. This not only creates a heavy load on the infrastructure of the tunnel, but also a loud noise, similar to an explosion. Using a 1:25 scale model of the NGT CARGO, DLR researchers will demonstrate how these effects can be mitigated. This involves attaching special hoods to the portals of the tunnel, for example, from which air can escape sideways or upwards through special inlets.

Alternative drive systems

Around half of the EU's rail network is not electrified, as full electrification would not be economically feasible in many places. As such, alternative drive concepts have to be adapted to the respective locations. DLR is thus working on alternative vehicle and infrastructure concepts for different technological and operational framework conditions for rail transport.

Strong crosswinds – stabilising high-speed trains

DLR is developing efficient and sustainable high-speed trains in its Next Generation Train (NGT) research project. Its key features are a double-decker design, lightweight construction and a maximum operating speed of 400 kilometres per hour. However, these also require special measures to ensure driving stability in strong crosswinds. DLR uses electromagnets that keep the train on the rails and stabilise it in strong side winds using the strongest possible magnetic holding power.

Condition-based maintenance – predictive repairs

Up until now, railroad switches and tracks have been maintained or replaced in fixed cycles. DLR is looking at how to maintain rail transport infrastructure before it becomes damaged or suffers malfunctions. The basic prerequisites for this are continuous, automatic condition monitoring of the relevant assets during operation, as well as the ability to automatically diagnose and predict the status of the system based on an extensive and complex pool of data (Big Data). At InnoTrans, DLR will be showcasing its progress in embedded rail monitoring with conventional rail vehicles, switches and cable systems for electronic interlocking stations.

Last modified:
18/09/2018 18:53:05



Dorothee Bürkle
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Media Relations, Energy and Transport Research

Tel.: +49 2203 601-3492

Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
Simon Neuenhöfer
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Programme Coordinator Transport

Tel.: +49 2203 601-3610

Fax: +49 2203 601-4712
Dr.-Ing. Joachim Winter
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Institute of Vehicle Concepts, NGT Project Manager

Tel.: +49 711 6862-274

Fax: +49 711 6862-258
Dr Michael Meyer zu Hörste
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

DLR Institute of Transport Research

Tel.: +49 531 295-3440